In real estate, success depends on those three infamous characteristics: location, location and location. HVAC business owners rely on a different top three for success: people, people and people.

Home sellers are easily worse off. When it comes to location, you either have it or you don’t. HVAC professionals, on the other hand, can acquire talent. They just need to know how.

The first rule of the talent hunt is diversification. While steadfast reliance on newspaper advertisements and internal referrals may yield a few new employees, they aren’t the most efficient methods for adding new workers.

Smart employers, including contractors, manufacturers, wholesalers and facility managers, are looking to a new tool for expanding and enhancing their human capital - digital media.

With use of the Internet not only increasing, but crossing into new socioeconomic strata each day, more job seekers find themselves turning to Web tools for help with the hunt. What’s more, many of these folks are conducting their online job chase while at work. One quarter of U.S. workers who use a computer at work admit to having searched for a new job on their companies’ time. That figure jumps to 33 percent for workers age 18 to 29.

Lots of lookers

When you consider that 11 million people located around the country - not to the mention the world - are searching for jobs via the Internet at least once a week, it seems ludicrous to risk missing the chance to talk with them.

Posting jobs online helps employers find technically skilled and experienced workers across the country - workers who may be in short supply in their region. Online job boards give employers with small budgets the ability to search the globe for their next employee. Job seekers are also able to learn, with very little time or research, the areas of the country where jobs are most plentiful.

Using the Internet to locate new employees is simple. Most job boards are as easy as “point and click” for both employers and job seekers. Anything based in technology can be intimidating at first, but once job seekers - and employers - give it a shot, they see the advantages and become hooked.

Online advertising of open positions is also much less costly than traditional media such as newspapers and radio. A weekend ad in the local daily paper may run into the thousands of dollars, depending on the metropolitan market and number of words. On the other hand, niche job boards offer job postings that run 30 days or more for a few hundred dollars. An additional advantage for many companies is that online job ads can be closely tracked and responding to a job seeker online is easy.

Right now you may be asking what this has to do with you, as your prospective employees are probably not online.

No strangers

While HVAC workers may not be considered the most “techie” of employees, these professionals are no strangers to computerized systems. They have seen a dramatic increase in use of technology over the past decade. Systems such as air conditioners, water heaters, electrical distribution and other mechanical systems have each undergone a dramatic technological makeover. As such, HVAC professionals are becoming more comfortable with and in some cases dependent on computer technology. The assumption that they are not online is plain wrong.

MEP Jobs, an online job board catering to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing industry, pulls in more than 50,000 visitors each month. Of these visitors, 46 percent already work in the HVAC industry. Additionally, nearly 80 percent are over 31 years old (There goes the myth that only the young and inexperienced are the only ones online.).

Because there are so many Internet job Web sites, employers who use niche job boards, such as MEP Jobs, are having the best luck. By using a focused site, job seekers know exactly what kinds of jobs will be listed, giving them increased confidence in their search. Likewise, employers know just what kind of employee will be surfing the site, and are therefore more comfortable investing in the digital advertisement of their open positions.

But what about the HVAC pros who don’t have access to computers or are away from them so often they can’t stay up-to-date on the latest available positions? Rest assured there are still ways to reach these folks using digital means.

It’s true that HVAC professionals are frequently away from their computers. But they are rarely away from their cell phones. That’s why employers are contracting with companies to send text message job alerts directly to the phones of prospective employees.

When investing in a program such as this, be sure it is powered by a reputable company that has secured permission from the cell phone users to send text messages. You want to avoid being lumped in with the “spammers” who are distributing unwanted advertisements faster than most can hit the delete button.

Making the tough decision to leave an employer for a new one is rough on workers of all ages and experience levels. Not only must employees squash their fears of change and the unknown, they must break ties that have in many cases been career-building relationships. In other words, HVAC business owners are fighting an uphill battle and need sophisticated weaponry to win the fight for today’s rising stars.

Digital media can be that weapon for your company. In addition to positioning you as a company unafraid of harnessing technology, it shows that you are committed to investing in the best people - a quality impressive to all job seekers.

Jeff Dickey-Chasins is vice president of marketing for online job board MEP Jobs, which serves the HVAC, electrical, plumbing and general construction industries. He can be reached at jdickey